Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sarkozy Wastes No Time After Win

PARIS -- French president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy plans to waste no time pushing through a weighty package of pro-market, anti-crime reforms -- but his first battle is winning control of the parliament in new elections next month.

Sarkozy, a U.S.-friendly conservative and an immigrant's son, defeated Socialist Segolene Royal by 53.06 percent to 46.94 percent with about 84 percent voter turnout Sunday.

The win gave Sarkozy a strong mandate for his vision of France's future: He wants to free up labor markets, calls France's 35-hour work week absurd and plans tougher measures on crime and immigration.

"The people of France have chosen change," Sarkozy told cheering supporters in a victory speech that sketched out a stronger global role for France and renewed partnership with the United States.

Exit polls offered some surprises. Some 46 percent of blue-collar workers -- traditionally leftist voters -- chose Sarkozy, according to an Ipsos-Dell poll. Forty-four percent of people of modest means voted for him, as did 32 percent of people who usually vote for the Greens and 14 percent who normally support the far-left. The poll surveyed 3,609 voters and has a margin of error of about 2 percent.

A headline Monday in Les Echos newspaper, a financial daily, read: "President Sarkozy: a wide majority for reforming the country in depth." Writer Jean d'Ormesson wrote of Sarkozy's reform plans in Le Figaro newspaper: "Fasten your seat belts. This will be quite a ride."

Sarkozy's task will not be easy. He is certain to face resistance from powerful unions to his plans to make the French work more and make it easier for companies to hire and fire.

The president-elect planned to stay out of the public eye for a few days, said Francois Fillon, an adviser often cited as the leading candidate for prime minister. "[Sarkozy] will retire to somewhere in France to unwind a little ... and to start organizing and preparing his teams," Fillon told TF1 television.

With his family, Sarkozy left his Paris hotel Monday -- dressed casually in jeans -- en route to his retreat. The location was not revealed.

The new president, 52, plans to take over for outgoing President Jacques Chirac, 74, on May 16. Fillon said Sarkozy's new government would be installed May 19 or 20.

The election left little time for celebrating: Legislative elections are slated for June 10 and 17, and Sarkozy's conservative Union for a Popular Movement party needs a majority to keep his mandate for reforms. A win by the left would bring an awkward power-sharing agreement with a leftist prime minister -- putting a stop to his plans.